What can UK manufacturers do to close the growing productivity gap?

The introduction of agile ERP solutions allows the breaking down of invisible walls within an organisation.

 What can UK manufacturers do to close the growing productivity gap?

It comes as no surprise that the issue of low productivity in the UK and the impact it is having on the economy, has been dominating the news. In fact, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recently reported that productivity growth is currently the weakest it has been since the Second World War.

Having previously suggested that the UK could become the 'most prosperous country in the world' but only if historic weaknesses in the UK’s infrastructure and skills base were remedied, George Osborne has stated that resolving this economic challenge and boosting productivity in the UK is at the forefront of his policies.

In fact, the government launched a plan to reverse the UK’s long-term productivity problem within the 2015 Summer Budget, setting an agenda to secure rising living standards and a better quality of life.

The ONS figures show that as Britain’s major economic rivals such as the US, Germany and France, are not facing these issues on the same expanding scale, the productivity gap is continuing to widen, leaving UK manufacturers and businesses questioning what they can do to catch up with their competitors overseas.

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Not only is the productivity gap a staggering standalone issue, it is also affecting other aspects of Britain’s businesses, such as wage recovery. Wage recovery will only be sustainable, and therefore affordable, for companies if productivity is rising.

So what can UK manufacturers, in particular, do to help to close the productivity gap? What measures can they implement to overcome this challenge and support the Chancellor’s proposed plans?

Many people have put forward answers as to how to solve the productivity puzzle, with some suggesting the loss is permanent, but the true solution to recovering the UK productivity landscape has yet to be uncovered.

Luckily, businesses now have the added benefit of technology on their side. If chosen and also implemented correctly, technology has the potential to dramatically improve the efficiency of a company’s workforce and outputs.

Remote working, easy access to information and data, improved speed and also a decrease in risk of human error, are just a few examples of the way in which technology can benefit a business, support productivity and allow for a smooth running team.

All workers will understand the positive effects a smooth running team can have, with employee satisfaction, quality of performance and timely, efficient accomplishment of goals being a few.

It’s about becoming more responsive, reacting to challenges quicker, increasing transparency across the entire organisation and leveraging all information gained in the past to avoid any future issues.

Although implementing technology in general is a good place to start for any business, in order to fully streamline business processes, effective software solutions are key. Not only do they allow minimal manual input, they support a much quicker output, leading to time being freed that can then be better spent.

Successfully utilising the right technology can provide businesses with an integrated view of company operations, which ultimately has an impact on the efficiency of any management team, and therefore the overall productivity of the company. 

Just one example of these software solutions is enterprise resource planning (ERP), which collects and organises data across an organisation to provide valuable insights into KPIs, all in real time.

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Essentially, the introduction of agile ERP solutions allows the breaking down of invisible walls within an organisation. Islands of information can be brought together to create an environment where ideas can be shared within the ERP so – unlike making notes or speaking on the phone – the information will never be lost.

UK manufacturers can make a real difference to the expanding productivity gap, and put Britain back on the map as a leader in the business economy, by assessing their current processes and the technology and make a call on whether or not they are willing to implement more modern, efficient systems, or risk falling victim to the productivity slump.

Sourced from Steve Winder, regional vice president, Epicor Software, UK and Ireland

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